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A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of attending Gartner’s Sales & Marketing Thought Leader Roundtable, where they revealed new research into how buyers buy in an age of information overload.

Upon returning home, my mind was spinning and assimilating. That weekend, I did what I often do when I need to assimilate new information: I began cleaning out my junk drawer in our kitchen.

It got me thinking…..

How had I accumulated notepads, taco sauce packets, and broken door handles from my great aunt’s apartment? Why did I feel the need to hoard five pairs of scissors, three hammers, and two extra dog collars?

Did I strategically plan to stockpile various tape brands in the kitchen… or use Thomas Goetz’s decision-making tree in deciding to place the Nyquil next to the wrench? (I think not).

Then, it occurred to me that our junk drawers provide a perfect metaphor for our sales process. Your junk drawer, like your sales process, undergoes a natural sort of entropy. We litter them with ideas, metrics, and white papers; we pile on more information and clutter our slide decks. We assume if one taco sauce is good, fifty must be better.

The problem?

Just as too much taco sauce causes indigestion, too much information causes indecision.


Customers would rather make no decision than make the wrong decision. Trying to figure out what they need to know and what they can ignore is exhausting.

So how do sellers cut through the clutter and guide buyers to a decision?

According to stunning new research presented by Gartner, we can divide selling behaviors into three approaches.

1)   Giving – These sellers operate under the more is a better premise. The problem: You confuse them you lose them

2)   Telling– These sellers tell customers their perspectives based on their experience, rather than empathizing with the needs of the customer

3)   Sense-Making –These sellers refrain from piling on more information. Instead, they make sense of the information the customer already has. They help the customer filter, assimilate, and apply information to make an informed decision. These sellers don’t merely focus on what to say, but they assist the customer in what they need to do to win the political support of other decision-makers.

“It’s not what you know that matters; it’s what you do with what you know..”


Every so often, you should take time out and ask yourself the following questions:

    • Do I really need to hold on to this 50 slide PowerPoint, white paper, or case study anymore? Does it provide clarity? Does it differentiate my offering, is it easy to understand?


    • Are my communications direct? Do my emails and conversations identify exactly what’s in it for the customer and what action we’d like them to take?


    • Must I accumulate several of the same things even though they’re identical? Do I reinforce my beliefs, thoughts, and beliefs through the media and social networks I choose, or am I open to new ideas, input, and insights?


How might I streamline my sales conversations? Our sales conversations get cluttered as well. We add a little of Tom, a bit of Sally and that extra whitepaper, article, and statistic from the marketing department.

Watch Has Your Sales Presentation Become a Junk Drawer? 3 Things to Streamline Your Presentation

As humans, we fall prey to old habits. We must consciously look at areas of our lives that need cleaning up, and then methodically and proactively do so. And then keep doing it.

The key to embracing change is having faith that when we get rid of the junk and clutter, something or someone even more powerful will take its place.


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